Indigenous Knowledges and Worldview: Representations and the Internet

Indigenous Knowledges and Worldview: Representations and the Internet

Judy Iseke-Barnes (University of Toronto, Canada) and Deborah Danard (University of Toronto, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-116-2.ch028


This chapter explores how representations of indigenous peoples on the Internet and other media are contextualized according to an outsider worldview, and that much of the information about indigenous peoples accessed through virtual media lack the original context in which to position the information. This means that the information is completely distanced from the indigenous peoples whom the information is purported to represent. This is problematic when representations of indigenous peoples are defined by dominant discourses which promote bias and reinforce stereotypes. With the increase of technology and the race to globalization, symbols are being reconstructed and redefined to connect and create a global identity for indigenous peoples. The consequences of this further the current practices of erasing and reconstructing indigenous history, language, culture and tradition through control and commodification of representations and symbols. This removal from history and community ensures continued silencing of indigenous voices. Although these misrepresentations continue to frame the discourse for indigenous peoples in Canada, it is time for indigenous peoples to reclaim and resist these representations and for outsiders to stop creating social narratives for indigenous peoples which support western hegemony.
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When indigenous representations are taken out of their cultural context and interpreted through the dominant culture, interpretations will inevitably support the beliefs and biases in which the dominant culture communicates. This means that when one culture interprets another it generally obscures rather than clarifies meaning. “Native reality is grounded in the kaleidoscopic experience of being inscribed as subaltern in the history of others and as subject to one’s own heritage. For Indians, these are placements built upon contradictory social imaginaries, representation of otherness prescribed by the missionary, the merchant, the military” (Valaskakis, 1993, p. 158).

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